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Shānhǎiguān/China

Introducing Shānhǎiguān

The walled town of Shānhǎiguān guards the narrow plain that leads to northeastern China, and is the renowned site where the Great Wall snakes out of the hills to meet the sea. In the rush to keep up with Běijīng and Shànghǎi, Shānhǎiguān began demolition of much of the historic part of town in 2006. While renovation of the poor, run-down buildings was necessary, the current plan is simply to rebuild the entire town from the ground up (in the ‘original style’) – all in the course of a single year. It may sound like a tall order, but hey, that’s China for you.

Given that our crystal ball was thoroughly obscured by construction dust, it’s hard to say what exactly the future has in store. The town walls and monuments should be left untouched, meaning that there’s still reason to visit, particularly for Great Wall aficionados. Unfortunately, though, much of the historic charm may be gone for good.